Updated: Jun 10
Last year, someone asked me, "Katie, how do I get both of my kids to sleep in the same hotel room? Or to share a bed on vacation?"
I love this question!
Probably because it took me some time to figure this one out myself.
Sharing a room (or a bed!) on vacation can be challenging if your kiddos are used to their own space for sleep at home. It can be distracting and uncomfortable to have someone else present when falling asleep if you aren't used to it.
Here are 4 strategies that help make bedtime feel a little bit more like home. And help you successfully get your kids to sleep with as little chaos as possible.
1. Toddler/Preschooler Vacation Sleep Tip:
Separate the Kids
Separate the kids into separate beds. You can do this just to fall asleep at bedtime and transfer them to the same bed once everyone is asleep. Or you can bunk up 1 adult with each kid and keep them separate for the entire night.
How to choose?
If the kids just distract, bother, wind each other up at bedtime but are fine sleeping together throughout the night, I'd move them into the same bed once they are asleep.
However, if you have kids who move around a lot, kick each other in the middle of the night, or wake each other in the morning, it may be better for you to suffer through sleeping with a kid so your other kid can get a good night's sleep.
And, yes. Because I know you are stressing about this. You can sleep with your kids on vacation without messing up your sleep situation at home. Toddlers and preschoolers understand the difference between sleep on vacation and sleep at home. The key is, get right back on track with your normal sleep situation on your first night back at home. Not the second night. The first night!
2. Toddler/Preschooler Vacation Sleep Tip:
Lay Down With the Kids
It is okay to remain present and lay down with your kiddos as they fall asleep on vacation, even if they fall asleep independently at home.
This helps keep everyone focused on falling asleep. It also allows you to act as a coach, offering a calming "shh" for any kiddo who is talking/fussing at/distracting their sibling.
Once you get home, get back on track with how you usually put your kids to sleep at home right away. This means, first night back at home, avoid falling into the trap of laying with your kids. If the kids ask for you to lay with them like you did on vacation, you can answer "We all had to sleep in the same room on vacation. Now that we are back home and we each have our own room, and own beds, we are all going to fall asleep separately. We all sleep best in our own beds."
3. Toddler/Preschooler Vacation Sleep Tip:
Put One Kid to Sleep at a Time
Put the kiddo who falls asleep fastest to bed first.
Here's an example of how this could play out.
Parent #1 puts kiddo #1 to sleep while Parent # 2 takes kiddo #2 on a special nighttime walk, or to the hotel lobby to read books/do a quiet (non-screen) activity.
This is a great opportunity for kiddo # 2 to get some quality time with parent #2 and create some special vacation memories.
Once kiddo #1 is asleep, kiddo #2 can come into the room quietly and fall asleep without his or her sibling awake to distract.
This works well when your kids do great falling asleep when they have their own space, but wind each other up when they are together with their sibling. I have personal experience with this one. Separating them removes the distraction for both of them and will lend to a much quicker, more peaceful bedtime for both kids.
4. Toddler/Preschooler Vacation Sleep Tip
For older kiddos (3+ years old), incentives can be golden.
Have the kids work together to earn their reward. It can be a daily incentive or a reward after a few days. They must both fall asleep calmly and quietly without distracting, bothering, winding each other up.
It is fun for the reward to be something special that you can only do on vacation. But it must be something you are willing to forgo if they do not earn their reward. So avoid choosing a reward such as going to the water park the next day if you are definitely going to the water park. Rather, they could earn dip n dots at the water park or go mini golfing at the super cool mini golf place when you are done with the water park if they reach their goal.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as founder and coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto and Veronica. She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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